September Newsletter: Try something new

 In All About Writing, Newsletters

Adventures at the Venice Retreat

We’re writing this in Venice where All About Writing is holding its annual writing retreat. This year we expanded the retreat to cover two weeks. Most of the participants spent a week, but a few intrepid writers signed up for the full fortnight and have made huge progress in advancing their various writing projects.

People have flocked to the retreat from all over the world. This year we have participants from Tasmania, South Africa, the UK, the United States and Canada. Their projects range from children’s fantasies to political and sporting biographies, from memoirs set against the glamorous backdrop of ramp modelling to a novel about three women characters who share a very deep secret…

Upcoming courses for the last quarter of 2019

Our flagship Creative Writing Course kicks off online and in Cape Town on 7 October, and in Johannesburg on 4 November. The programme covers all the skills you need to write a novel, short stories or creative non-fiction – biography or memoir.

Each module ends with a short exercise, to encourage you instantly to put theory into practice. Whether you join us in person or online, each of your exercises will receive personal feedback from either Jo-Anne or Richard, the course facilitators.

We have two more Creative Saturdays lined up in Cape Town, on 5 October and 7 December. These always fill up far in advance, so be sure to book online if you want to join us.

And finally, there’s still time to enrol for the Screenwriting Crash Course or the Kickstart Your Screenplay Course, both starting online on 16 September.

Community News

All About Writing’s Jo-Anne Richards, currently supporting a range of writers with their projects in Venice, but who is more often to be found running creative writing courses in Cape Town, will be guest of honour and speaker at the relaunch of her acclaimed novel The Innocence of Roast Chicken as a part of Picador Africa’s Heritage Series. The event will take place on November 7 at Exclusive Books Cavendish in Cape Town and at Love Books in Johannesburg on October 30. Please join us to celebrate Jo-Anne’s red-letter day.

Frankie Francis held the launch of her memoir of endurance riding, Stay Light in the Saddle, in Swakopmund in Namibia. It was, she reports, an emotional experience seeing fellow riders after many years.

Anyone interested in reading her entrancing account of her years in search not only of trophies and plaudits, but, more importantly, of the perfect equine partner, should send her a WhatsApp message on +264 (0)81 129 5853, or email her at She’ll send you her bank details and after you’ve deposited a mere N$250, she’ll send you a signed copy. We can’t recommend her stirring tale too highly!

Twelve hundred scripts and counting…

My career as a scriptwriter spans five decades. During that time I have written upwards of twelve hundred comedy and drama scripts. I agree that I should have learned something from all this experience.

The deepest lessons, of course, are usually simple ones.

The deepest lesson I have to pass on is probably this: because writing for film and television is a collaborative enterprise, the last thing on earth you want to flash about is a large and jealous ego. Brainstorming partners, script editors, directors, actors, props masters, wardrobe mistresses – each of them adds or amends or tightens or interprets your original work in ways that, in sum, create a piece of visual storytelling that is almost inevitably more powerful than your modest draft.

Insisting obstinately on your author’s right to preserve every one of your immortal words is a mistake that can cost your work dearly.

Open yourself up to others, listen to their responses, take their notes, filter in their ideas – and your story will improve, sometimes dramatically.

It’s in this spirit that we offer our two screenwriting courses – our Crash Course, and our Kickstart programme. Sign up for either and you’ll be working with two experienced professionals in the field to sharpen your skills and develop your techniques in writing for the screen.

For more details, check out the links above, or email

What’s your favourite song?

Wait, don’t tell us yet. Enter our August/September flash fiction challenge. Write a piece of flash fiction (no more than 250 words) inspired by a favourite song. Be sure to include the name of the song and the artist in your entry.

Paste your entry into the body of an email and send to by midnight on 30 September.

The winner will receive a literary assessment on 5000 words of writing worth R 2750 / £ 150 or a voucher to the same value to use on one of our courses.

Happy writing,

Richard Beynon and the All About Writing Team

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